This past Friday, the Pentagon announced it will deploy 3,500 soldiers to the Middle East following the killing of one of the country’s top military figures, Qassem Soleimani.
After a directed drone strike near the Baghdad airport, ordered by President Donald Trump, the country has vowed to exact “severe revenge” on the U.S.
Recent months of disorder and disturbances have sparked fear of an awakened war on terrorism and the response from our leader would be critical. President Trump has been harshly criticized for the choice he made to strike at one of the world’s most powerful terrorists, but it was a hard decision that had to be made under pressure.
Leading in such times of urgent crisis can be overwhelming, but it is these moments that greatly determine the quality of our leadership.
It is, in fact, for times such as these that we have an elected president in place. When faced with moments of crisis, there are essential leadership skills that are vital to lead throughout times of uncertainty with confidence. In response to the recent actions and threats from the Middle East, each difficult decision had to be made quickly, wisely, and with certainty. Each plan must be prompt but calculated, responsive but exact, fast but thorough. There are times when leadership calls for immediate and decisive execution.
Whether it is a nation faced with the threat of war or an unexpected change within your business, how you choose to lead through these times is essential.
They are both the testing ground and the reason you have been selected to lead. While these moments can send our minds spinning and adrenaline soaring, there are a few key traits from the recent events in the Middle East that can be applied at any level of leadership. Although you may never feel fully ready for such a moment, there are ways to be equipped for the difficult decisions that may come your way.
Be prepared for a crisis before a crisis arrives. We should always be prepared in leadership — there is no question about it. It is for the moments of uncertainty that we are always working to be one step ahead. Before trouble is in sight is the time to double-check every initiative and secure a plan of action for any crisis that may arise. The moments when there is not a crisis are the moments to look for symptoms of what may possibly become a crisis. Consider the things you must be prepared for: Who would take the reins if you suddenly became ill? Are you utilizing all of your team’s strengths in case one may need to assist in another role? What is your financial backup if sales are struggling this year? Take these moments to ensure that every effort is effective toward your ultimate goal. That way when a crisis does arise, you can be fully present for the issue at hand.
Do not take the situation lightly. It can be easy to be faced with a threat and want to ignore it or look past it. We can even want to take the so-called optimistic route of “hoping for the best.” There are times when it is good to ignore a threat, but when it has any potential to break the core of your company, your team, or your leadership, you must prepare for the worst. As much as optimism is vital for any visionary or inspiring leader, so is a realistic outlook in order to maintain the health of your team.
Commit to your choice. Of course, in leadership, we may know what we want or where we are going, but we can often waffle in how we go about it. But a time of crisis is not the time to be indecisive. Start now by making a habit of sticking to your word. Commit to your plan, and commit to the way in which you go about it so that you can be the most effective and reliable.
Moments of crisis have the ability to reveal the best or the worst in us — especially within leadership. These moments are a true test of what your leadership is really made of. If you can begin to build habits of commitment and precaution beforehand, you will set yourself up to make the wisest decision when a moment of crisis does arise.
Dr. Kent Ingle serves as the President of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and is the author of "Framework Leadership." A champion of innovative educational design, Ingle is the president of one of the fastest growing private universities in the nation. As president, Ingle founded the American Center for Political Leadership at the university and is also a founding member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Before becoming Southeastern’s president in 2011, Ingle held leadership positions in higher education and the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Ingle is the author of several leadership books and the creator of the Framework Leadership podcast. He currently serves on the board of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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